Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

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wewillsee2011
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Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby wewillsee2011 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 12:30 pm

I know that foreigners are NOT allowed to be patent lawyers but what about all other types of law? If I can graduate with a JD from a good school in the US, do I have any shot? Would it be a career suicide? I love the US and would love to be part of the legal system there but until I know I have any chance of making it I don't really want to put effort into it. If you guys have any experience please give an honest opinion. Thanks in advance to all of you.

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EDIT - By the way, I meant if I can be employed "in the US by a US law firm". I know a lot of big firms have branches all over the world but I am not talking about those international branches.
Last edited by wewillsee2011 on Tue Feb 08, 2011 12:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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blerg
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Re: Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby blerg » Tue Feb 08, 2011 12:32 pm

Do you need to be sponsored for a work visa?

wewillsee2011
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Re: Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby wewillsee2011 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 12:33 pm

Yup

wewillsee2011
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Re: Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby wewillsee2011 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:08 pm

No replies at all!! Is that a "no"?

Chouchous
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Re: Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby Chouchous » Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:12 pm

wewillsee2011 wrote:I know that foreigners are NOT allowed to be patent lawyers but what about all other types of law? If I can graduate with a JD from a good school in the US, do I have any shot? Would it be a career suicide? I love the US and would love to be part of the legal system there but until I know I have any chance of making it I don't really want to put effort into it. If you guys have any experience please give an honest opinion. Thanks in advance to all of you.

--------------------------------------
EDIT - By the way, I meant if I can be employed "in the US by a US law firm". I know a lot of big firms have branches all over the world but I am not talking about those international branches.


I am asking myself the same question. Is it even a good investment for foreigners to attend US law schools especially ITE?

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Kabuo
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Re: Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby Kabuo » Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:14 pm

Don't take our jerbs. Seriously though, I don't know.
Last edited by Kabuo on Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

wewillsee2011
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Re: Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby wewillsee2011 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:15 pm

Yeah hopefully someone on TLS can answer us. I don't want to get my hopes up and be disappointed later.

Chouchous
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Re: Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby Chouchous » Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:17 pm

wewillsee2011 wrote:Yeah hopefully someone on TLS can answer us. I don't want to get my hopes up and be disappointed later.


I'm sort of deciding between US law schools and a top Canadian law school. And the employment prospects in the US factor into this decision heavily.

sophie316
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Re: Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby sophie316 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:33 pm

Yes

- Foreigner summering at a Biglaw firm this upcoming summer

That said just because you CAN doesn't you 1) will or 2) should, depending on what your long term goals are.

wewillsee2011
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Re: Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby wewillsee2011 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:39 pm

sophie316 wrote:Yes

- Foreigner summering at a Biglaw firm this upcoming summer

That said just because you CAN doesn't you 1) will or 2) should, depending on what your long term goals are.


Thanks a bunch for replying. However this sounds like a cautionary note. Why do you mention that I should think whether I should do it at all? Can you explain a little bit more? I would really appreciate it.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
EDIT - Also is it unusual for firms to sponsor for work visa? Do they do it only under special circumstances? How hard is it?
Last edited by wewillsee2011 on Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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deadpoetnsp
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Re: Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby deadpoetnsp » Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:42 pm

wewillsee2011 wrote:I know that foreigners are NOT allowed to be patent lawyers but what about all other types of law? If I can graduate with a JD from a good school in the US, do I have any shot? Would it be a career suicide? I love the US and would love to be part of the legal system there but until I know I have any chance of making it I don't really want to put effort into it. If you guys have any experience please give an honest opinion. Thanks in advance to all of you.

--------------------------------------
EDIT - By the way, I meant if I can be employed "in the US by a US law firm". I know a lot of big firms have branches all over the world but I am not talking about those international branches.


I am a "foreigner" who plans to become a patent attorney. I also have friends who were not US citizens or residents when they began US law school. I have done extensive research on the topic and these are short answers to your questions:

1. Foreigners can be patent lawyers. They have to first get employed by a law firm, and then pass the patent bar to get a "limited recognition" status. The only difference from US patent attorneys is that with a limited recognition, you cannot practice solo: you will have to practice through your law firm. Having a US science graduate degree (MS or PhD) in addition to your international undergraduate degree makes employment relatively easier.

2. In general, to get employed by law firms, foreigners will have to be at the top of their class (top 20% or so) and be in the top 5%-10% to be really comfortable. Being at the top is really difficult, even if you are at a T50 rather than a T14.

Employment is a really broad question. Which area of law are you looking at and what kind of law firms? BigLaw? MidLaw? Small law firms? Boutique law firms? Regional law firms? Each of these have different selection criteria. Generally, BigLaw firms do not hesitate to hire foreigners with a great GPA/class rank from a top-ranked law school.

Sophie316, correct me if I'm wrong.
Last edited by deadpoetnsp on Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

canam2011
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Re: Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby canam2011 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:43 pm

I'd like to know this too...

Also, how difficult is it to get a firm to sponsor a green card? I'm sick of this snow!

sophie316
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Re: Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby sophie316 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:47 pm

wewillsee2011 wrote:
sophie316 wrote:Yes

- Foreigner summering at a Biglaw firm this upcoming summer

That said just because you CAN doesn't you 1) will or 2) should, depending on what your long term goals are.


Thanks a bunch for replying. However this sounds like a cautionary note. Why do you mention that I should think whether I should do it at all? Can you explain a little bit more? I would really appreciate it.


Just that despite the fact I've been lucky and gotten a job at my top choice place that will, if I get an offer, sponsor my visa, I still question the sense of doing a US law degree. It's extremely expensive and I ultimately want to go home. Im again lucky in that the place I'm working has an office in my home country but as a foreigner having a US law degree limits where you can live so unless you're sure you want to live in the US or know that you could practice US law in your home country. Also if you want to have any kind of mobility you are limited to corporate law basically(this may not be a problem for you but for anyone shooting for litigation you're not really going to be able to easily take that home). H1B visas are time limited and it's very hard to get a green card so at the end of the day after (I think) 6 years or so you'er going to have to either get married or go home at least for a while before you could return(I think its a year).

Additionally unless you have a US guarantor you cannot take out loans so you have to be able to pay upfront. If you don't get a biglaw job its extermely hard to get someone to sponsor your visa(NGOs dont have the money, you can't work for the government).

ETA: the other downside is you are tied to your employer. If you get fired, or quit without another sponsor lined up, you have 60 days to leave the country.

Overall it's a huge investment for a lot of risk. If you can afford it, can go to a god school where you have a decent shot at biglaw but are happy to 1) have to go home and do something else after if it doesn't work out 2) get married to an american or 3) even if you get a job and a sponsor, happy to have to leave after 6 years then go for it. I've been very lucky and overall I am glad I made the decision I did because it worked out for me(again assming I get an offer). But knowing what I know now about how risky it really was, I'm not sure I'd do it again.
Last edited by sophie316 on Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

sophie316
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Re: Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby sophie316 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:48 pm

canam2011 wrote:I'd like to know this too...

Also, how difficult is it to get a firm to sponsor a green card? I'm sick of this snow!


Very very hard. They have to show you're doing a job that no American citizen can do. You're a lawyer, that is (almost) never going to be true unless you have some special skills beyond law.

sophie316
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Re: Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby sophie316 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:51 pm

deadpoetnsp wrote:
wewillsee2011 wrote:I know that foreigners are NOT allowed to be patent lawyers but what about all other types of law? If I can graduate with a JD from a good school in the US, do I have any shot? Would it be a career suicide? I love the US and would love to be part of the legal system there but until I know I have any chance of making it I don't really want to put effort into it. If you guys have any experience please give an honest opinion. Thanks in advance to all of you.

--------------------------------------
EDIT - By the way, I meant if I can be employed "in the US by a US law firm". I know a lot of big firms have branches all over the world but I am not talking about those international branches.


I am a "foreigner" who plans to become a patent attorney. I also have friends who were not US citizens or residents when they began US law school. I have done extensive research on the topic and these are short answers to your questions:

1. Foreigners can be patent lawyers. They have to first get employed by a law firm, and then pass the patent bar to get a "limited recognition" status. The only difference from US patent attorneys is that with a limited recognition, you cannot practice solo: you will have to practice through your law firm. Having a US science graduate degree (MS or PhD) in addition to your international undergraduate degree makes employment relatively easier.

2. In general, to get employed by law firms, foreigners will have to be at the top of their class (top 20% or so) and be in the top 5%-10% to be really comfortable. Being at the top is really difficult, even if you are at a T50 rather than a T14.

Employment is a really broad question. Which area of law are you looking at and what kind of law firms? BigLaw? MidLaw? Small law firms? Boutique law firms? Regional law firms? Each of these have different selection criteria. Generally, BigLaw firms do not hesitate to hire foreigners with a great GPA/class rank from a top-ranked law school.

Sophie316, correct me if I'm wrong.


No idea about patent law but, yes you're going to need to be at a good school and do well. However, once you're in that area, firms don't care that you're foreign. Most have foreigners working for them and have all the procedures in place for getting visas etc. The problem comes when somewhere doens't know how to do it and has to effectively hire an outside lawyer to file it all. You can offer to pay for the lawyer(I know someone taht did that) but you CANNOT pay the visa fee and they CANNOT take it out of your salary, so they're going to take a financial hit by hiring you wherever you go. Biglawfirms don't care because its minimal relative to what they pay you. Smaller places and NGOS etc may/will.

wewillsee2011
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Re: Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby wewillsee2011 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:57 pm

So you mean I have very little chance at getting into one of the smaller firms? Also from what you guys are saying it sounds like it's better to graduate as top 20% of your class from a T50 than top 40% of your class from a T14. Did I understand it right?

sophie316
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Re: Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby sophie316 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 2:01 pm

wewillsee2011 wrote:So you mean I have very little chance at getting into one of the smaller firms? Also from what you guys are saying it sounds like it's better to graduate as top 20% of your class from a T50 than top 40% of your class from a T14. Did I understand it right?


Honestly I don't know. My GUESS is that smaller firms are going to be more reluctant to hire foreigners, but I have no basis for the statement beyond the fact that it costs them money and I can't see why they would hire a foreigner with all the stuff that goes along with that when they likely have an American who is equally as qualified also in the running. However, that is PURE speculation on my part. I'm sure it varies from place to place and firm to firm.

I also don't really know the lines for where one has a better or worse shot at getting big law, sorry.

wewillsee2011
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Re: Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby wewillsee2011 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 2:06 pm

sophie316 wrote:
wewillsee2011 wrote:So you mean I have very little chance at getting into one of the smaller firms? Also from what you guys are saying it sounds like it's better to graduate as top 20% of your class from a T50 than top 40% of your class from a T14. Did I understand it right?


Honestly I don't know. My GUESS is that smaller firms are going to be more reluctant to hire foreigners, but I have no basis for the statement beyond the fact that it costs them money and I can't see why they would hire a foreigner with all the stuff that goes along with that when they likely have an American who is equally as qualified also in the running. However, that is PURE speculation on my part. I'm sure it varies from place to place and firm to firm.

I also don't really know the lines for where one has a better or worse shot at getting big law, sorry.


That's totally cool. You have been really really helpful. I have one more question, if you don't mind. I thought law schools give a lot of financial aid (I am NOT talking about Federal grants and loans). Are such financial aid strictly for the US citizens and permanent residents? If you don't mind me asking, did you get any financial aid at all?

sophie316
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Re: Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby sophie316 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 2:09 pm

wewillsee2011 wrote:
sophie316 wrote:
wewillsee2011 wrote:So you mean I have very little chance at getting into one of the smaller firms? Also from what you guys are saying it sounds like it's better to graduate as top 20% of your class from a T50 than top 40% of your class from a T14. Did I understand it right?


Honestly I don't know. My GUESS is that smaller firms are going to be more reluctant to hire foreigners, but I have no basis for the statement beyond the fact that it costs them money and I can't see why they would hire a foreigner with all the stuff that goes along with that when they likely have an American who is equally as qualified also in the running. However, that is PURE speculation on my part. I'm sure it varies from place to place and firm to firm.

I also don't really know the lines for where one has a better or worse shot at getting big law, sorry.


That's totally cool. You have been really really helpful. I have one more question, if you don't mind. I thought law schools give a lot of financial aid (I am NOT talking about Federal grants and loans). Are such financial aid strictly for the US citizens and permanent residents? If you don't mind me asking, did you get any financial aid at all?


Yeah, I got a scholarship. I would imagine that you wouldn't get anything from a state school though(but I'm not sure), but I think private law schools give $ without regard to if you're a foreigner or not. Also bear in mind you can work on campus as an international student to make money(although I would not recommend that 1L)

wewillsee2011
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Re: Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby wewillsee2011 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 2:13 pm

sophie316 wrote:You're a lawyer, that is (almost) never going to be true unless you have some special skills beyond law.


Can you tell me what the specific challenges are which hold back foreigners to be outstanding/exceptional in law?

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deadpoetnsp
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Re: Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby deadpoetnsp » Tue Feb 08, 2011 2:21 pm

wewillsee2011 wrote:That's totally cool. You have been really really helpful. I have one more question, if you don't mind. I thought law schools give a lot of financial aid (I am NOT talking about Federal grants and loans). Are such financial aid strictly for the US citizens and permanent residents? If you don't mind me asking, did you get any financial aid at all?


I have applied to this cycle, so I can answer this question. "Financial aid" from law schools means loans. Foreigners will not be eligible for these. However, foreigners can and do get "merit scholarships", based largely on the LSAT score. These scholarships can go as high as full-tuition scholarships (if you have 167-168+ LSAT for T20-T50 and 172-173+ for T14). However, you still have to pay for cost-of-living yourself. Tuition is typically around $40-45K/year and cost of living can run from $15K-25K/year, depending on the area. So even if you get a full-tuition scholarship, you will need to prove that you have the financial means to pay about $20K/year to the visa officer to get a student visa. So you need to have savings, or get a loan from your home country, or have a relative/family friend who is a US citizen/permanent resident and ready to cosign US private loans for you.

The only schools I know that give need-based grants (that is, not merit scholarships or loans, but free money based on economic need) are Harvard, Yale and Stanford. And they require you to take loans for cost-of-living.

PM me if you have specific questions.

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deadpoetnsp
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Re: Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby deadpoetnsp » Tue Feb 08, 2011 2:28 pm

wewillsee2011 wrote:
sophie316 wrote:You're a lawyer, that is (almost) never going to be true unless you have some special skills beyond law.


Can you tell me what the specific challenges are which hold back foreigners to be outstanding/exceptional in law?


One of the challenges is adjusting to a new culture. You may be extremely smart, and know everything about the law and get employed at a good firm. But at a later stage in your career as you rise up the ranks, you will be expected to bring in clients to the law firm. Now to bring in clients, you should be very comfortable in communicating with them about matters NOT related to the law. For example, your client may say something about the "Indiana Hoosiers" or the "Sox" or the "Green Bay Packers" and as a foreigner you may have no clue what they are talking about - leading to some awkwardness in the conversation. This is just a simple example. But if you are confident about fitting in the US, then you should not worry too much.

Also, keep in mind that the cultural environment in the US changes with location. Big cities like NY and Chicago will feel very different than smaller cities or towns.

I know these may seem like small things, but in the long run, you should be able to adjust to these kinds of changes to be successful.

rose711
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Re: Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby rose711 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 2:37 pm

wewillsee2011 wrote:
sophie316 wrote:You're a lawyer, that is (almost) never going to be true unless you have some special skills beyond law.


Can you tell me what the specific challenges are which hold back foreigners to be outstanding/exceptional in law?
[quote="wewillsee2011"][quote="sophie316"]

For a firm to sponsor you, they have to be able to show that no US person could do your job. That means you need unique (or almost unique) skills that you won't have simply from graduating from a US law school. You will need a lot more than a US student to get a job.

Sponsorship is a very expensive and time consuming process for a firm to undertake. So not only is getting the visa difficult, just finding someone to sponsor you will be really difficult.

wewillsee2011
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Re: Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby wewillsee2011 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 2:50 pm

deadpoetnsp wrote:
wewillsee2011 wrote:That's totally cool. You have been really really helpful. I have one more question, if you don't mind. I thought law schools give a lot of financial aid (I am NOT talking about Federal grants and loans). Are such financial aid strictly for the US citizens and permanent residents? If you don't mind me asking, did you get any financial aid at all?


I have applied to this cycle, so I can answer this question. "Financial aid" from law schools means loans. Foreigners will not be eligible for these. However, foreigners can and do get "merit scholarships", based largely on the LSAT score. These scholarships can go as high as full-tuition scholarships (if you have 167-168+ LSAT for T20-T50 and 172-173+ for T14). However, you still have to pay for cost-of-living yourself. Tuition is typically around $40-45K/year and cost of living can run from $15K-25K/year, depending on the area. So even if you get a full-tuition scholarship, you will need to prove that you have the financial means to pay about $20K/year to the visa officer to get a student visa. So you need to have savings, or get a loan from your home country, or have a relative/family friend who is a US citizen/permanent resident and ready to cosign US private loans for you.

The only schools I know that give need-based grants (that is, not merit scholarships or loans, but free money based on economic need) are Harvard, Yale and Stanford. And they require you to take loans for cost-of-living.

PM me if you have specific questions.


Thanks a lot deadpoetnsp.

wewillsee2011
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Re: Can foreigners get jobs in Biglaw firms in the US?

Postby wewillsee2011 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 2:51 pm

rose711 wrote:
For a firm to sponsor you, they have to be able to show that no US person could do your job. That means you need unique (or almost unique) skills that you won't have simply from graduating from a US law school. You will need a lot more than a US student to get a job.

Sponsorship is a very expensive and time consuming process for a firm to undertake. So not only is getting the visa difficult, just finding someone to sponsor you will be really difficult.


Are you a foreign student too?




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